I am Altair, feared warrior of the underworld. Snatching life from men in public or the catacombs, I kill with unmitigated supremacy.
I am in deep infatuation, brought to another world, a realm of inexplicable emotion and thought. I am caught up in the wonder of a girl.
I am a friend and casual observer of Edmond Dantes. I watch from the shadows and rest in the corners as the great Count of Monte Cristo exacts precise revenge on his adversaries.
I am a student, a writer, a pizza cook. I close the book, switch off the computer. I finish the cold cup of tea, reach over and turn off the light. I am Dan Peterson and I am tired.
On a warm drizzly day, 14 June 2013, thirty-nine of the worlds most intelligent people from fields of study varying from Quantum Consciousness to Human Enhancement to Brain-Machine Connections to Spiritual Trans-humanism, gathered to discuss the future of human consciousness.
They filed into the Alice Tully Hall in New York City to convene the second International Global Future 2045 Congress in which they would discuss the imminent future. This inevitability. A future in which Dmitry Itskov (Russian multimillionaire) envisions the ability to create human copies "to be eventually uploaded with the contents of a real human brain".
You are not reading a sci-fi script, although at first glance this seems more outrageous than the recent death of the Twinkie (and subsequent resurrection), as I thought more about this vision, this goal, and this pursuit; I began to realize this is not as far from our hearts and minds as we may think.
For centuries humanity has expressed an innate desire to transcend themselves. To reach beyond the limitations brought on by such a feeble mortal body. From the Epic of Gilgamesh, where Gilgamesh's confrontation with the death of his friend inspires him to embark on a perilous journey to achieve immortality; to the fountain of youth in the Caribbean, to the elixir of life spread throughout ancient China, India, and Europe; humanity has sought a release in many different forms.
I become curious about is the thread that connects all of these philosophies, myths and visions. The desire seeking fulfilment. The commonality that binds all of these philosophies from ancient Mesopotamia to the Renaissance to the GF2045 and perhaps even further; how this is played out in our everyday lives and how the gospel is found in this baffling desire.
Escape has a powerful allure and the first, most powerful element I see played out in this realm is love and infatuation. Both of which are a reach towards transcendence. Stick with me. I have no real experience with love, but infatuation is almost my second nature, a nature I've seen played out by friends and family as long as I can remember.
A nature that entices the soul into such an intoxicating realm, a hopelessly confounding, yet endlessly appealing place that offers transcendence. A removal from the deadening consciousness of oneself and into the an imprisoning freedom that is simply unmatched. I suggest this realm is a taste of transcendence, and love further still. Just bring to memory any number of Middle School and High School experience and you may understand what I mean about infatuation and its dizzying affect on our mortal consciousness.
Beyond that in a more daily experiential case, is the transcendence sought and perhaps found through a number of mediums, video games, books, TV. Each of these play into our innate desire for transcendence. I believe at the core of our pursuit of these things, is the pursuit of transcendence. For isn't this the very point of most TV shows, video games and books: to bring us to places where we just couldn't go on our own, to live lives that are simply not possible for us.
Experiencing the a type of supremacy that isn't confined to the mortal body, enabling us to embody something more, something greater, above the limitations trapping us daily. Before we know it, TV characters are our friends, book characters our comrades, and video games our escapist playground.
This is why these different industries have been so successful and lucrative, they feed off our latent passion for disembodiment, for transcendence, and for being connected to something greater than our mortality.
Even our fascination with death expresses our thirst for the otherworldly, for the release from mortality. In nearly all stories, death is what brings the edge, the intensity â because in death we see a mystery. A romanticism in the spiritual â a souls release, an uncaging which fulfils the deep subconscious desire to go beyond self, a desire that has generations transfixed in their own unique way. In the biological âa process of re-birthing, a sacrificing of a biological entity for the refreshment of the entire system. All of this linked to our interest in the transcendentÃ¢â¬"the other worldly and it paints the canvas' of cultural history from the beginning of time.
Now, I cant just leave it there. And by there I don't mean that this is a critique of media or culture, but this is rather a call to look beyond the transcendence the world offers. For the transcendence of the world, whether it be love, infatuation, video games, books, TV, or fifty rich and powerful people gathering to hammer out the final stages of our disembodiment, can only take us so far in fulfilling this core desire. It promises much and turns up counterfeit. The true fulfilment can only be found in the Gospel. Only be found in the mystery of Christ.
Perhaps the most confounding and exhilarating truth in the Bible is the mystery of the union of the Spirit of the Ageless One with the spirit of the mortal. This mystery Paul speaks of in Colossians 1 versed 26 "the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints...which is Christ in you" The soul thirsts for transcendence because the ability to connect with transcendence exists!
C S. Lewis so beautifully puts this truth, "Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world" We desire to be connected to something beyond ourselves, firstly because that other end, that something, exists.
Secondly, we have been given the route to this connection; the fulfilment of this desire spelt out so clearly for us in the Gospel. Paul says that the mystery has finally been revealed to us in Christ, in the union of His Spirit with ours, and when we put our faith in Christ and allow his transformation to occur, this transcendent connection becomes a reality.
Our desire can be fulfilled! It is in the joined death and resurrection with Christ that we find connection with the transcendent; the daily embrace of the One who has no end and never began.
The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8 verse 11), who hovered over the face of the deep before the beginning of time (Genesis 1 verse 2), the Spirit who plumbs the depths of YHWH (1 Corinthians 2:12) which cannot be known by any other (Job 11 verses 7-9) now is present in everyone who acknowledges and receives the Gospel.
In our so very evident pursuit of transcendence, let us receive the true Gospel and find all we desire in EmmanuelÃ¢â¬"the daily presence of the God of Ages past and to come.
Dan Peterson (21) is from Chicago, Illinois USA, currently living in St. Leonards, Tasmania, studying cross-cultural ministry (his second of three years). Dan is a musician and personal fitness trainer, who loves exploring the Australian bush.
Dan Peterson previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/dan-peterson.html